The President and Vice President have this thing about aircraft carriers. Four years ago, on a flight deck, Bush declared victory in Iraq. This week Cheney all but declared war on Iran.
The verbal firepower was stunning. The VP wasn’t decked out in a flight suit, as his nominal boss was, but his words were straight out of a Superman script:
“With two carrier strike groups in the gulf, we’re sending clear messages to friends and adversaries alike. We’ll keep the sea lanes open. We’ll stand with our friends in opposing extremism and strategic threats.
“We’ll disrupt attacks on our own forces. We’ll continue bringing relief to those who suffer, and delivering justice to the enemies of freedom. And we’ll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.”
Reviewing Cheney’s performance, an anonymous State Department official told the New York Times: “This is about saber-rattling, and power projection. And who better to do it?”
In a few days, Cheney will be back in his Washington cocoon. The young people who serve on the USS John C. Stennis will still be off the coast of Iran waiting for orders.
On the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003, Airman Bush was equally dramatic:
“Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before. From distant bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could destroy an enemy division, or strike a single bunker.
“Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground, in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history. You have shown the world the skill and the might of the American Armed Forces.”
In the ancient movie “Arsenic and Old Lace,” there is a loony character dressed up like Teddy Roosevelt who keeps barreling up the stairs with a sword yelling “Charge!” until he is taken to an asylum.
Bush and Cheney won’t be put away for more than a year and a half. Meanwhile, on aircraft carriers and elsewhere, they will be acting out their martial fantasies with impunity.